Daytona Debut a Success for Howard Daytona Beach, FL (2-11-02) - Shelby Howard had never run a competitive lap at Daytona prior to Sunday, but it didn't show by the way he drove. The 16-year-old, ARCA RE/MAX rookie brought the Lucas Oil-Mack ...
Daytona Debut a Success for Howard
Daytona Beach, FL (2-11-02) - Shelby Howard had never run a competitive lap at Daytona prior to Sunday, but it didn't show by the way he drove. The 16-year-old, ARCA RE/MAX rookie brought the Lucas Oil-Mack Trucks Pontiac home in 27th, but the final position doesn't indicate how well he ran throughout most of the day.
After working his way up to 6th within the first 30 laps, Howard took over the lead on lap 32 when the top 5 cars pitted under a caution flag for debris. The CIMCO Racing team elected to stay out because of the dark clouds looming on the horizon.
"We gambled by staying out, but we knew we could go 47 laps on fuel and with the rain moving in, we felt it was worth it," said Howard.
Back under the green flag, Howard surrendered the lead to veteran Bobby Gerhart on lap 36. Caution flew again on lap 41, this time for rain.
Following a 40-minute rain delay, the action resumed with Howard holding down the 3rd position. After some miscommunication on the radio, Howard brought his machine down pit road the second time by for their lone pit stop of the day on lap 47. Restarting in the 31st position, Howard only had two more laps under green before a car spun right in front of him coming out of the short chute, bringing out the 5th and final caution of the day. Four laps later, the race was called because of rain.
"It was unfortunate that we weren't able to run the full 80 laps because we had a strong car and were looking at a top ten finish," Howard said. "I learned a ton today about which line to be in, getting a run and making a pass on someone. I was able to follow some of the veterans and picked up quite a bit from watching them."
Other than leading a couple of green flag laps, the main excitement of the day for Howard was avoiding the spin at the end of the race.
"I knew it was coming. On the lap before, the cars in front of me were getting pretty racy. It looked like he (K. Belmont) picked up a hard push. I checked up a little, but I knew there was a car right behind me who couldn 't see what was happening. I tried to work the inside car down the track a bit so I could avoid the wreck. The car behind me got into me pretty good, but I was able to hang on to it," commented Howard.
"Overall, we had a really good day. It was a great learning experience," Howard continued. "This was my first experience with the draft, but it wasn 't too bad. You just had to watch the other drivers around you. We are looking forward to taking what we learned to Talladega in October. We had a great time here in Daytona and want to thank Lucas Oil for being down here with us."
Lucas Oil Products, based in Corona, California, was only committed to the season opener as the team's primary sponsor. Mack Trucks and Shepherd Insurance will continue as associate sponsors for the remainder of the season.
Howard will return to action when the ARCA RE/MAX Series moves to the Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Pork The Other White Meat 400 on Saturday, March 9th. The race will be aired by Speed Channel on a tape-delayed basis on Monday, March 11th at 8 p.m. ET.
CAR INFO: The CIMCO Racing team will now focus their energy back on their Chevrolet Monte Carlo. They won't return to the Pontiac they use for the superspeedways until the Talladega race in October.
TEST SESSION: Shelby and CIMCO Racing are planning on participating in the open test session at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 21.